In this SuperfastCPA podcast interview, you’ll hear how Tyler crushed the CPA exams in 5 months, studying 2 hours a day, after being out of school for several years.
You’ll hear his daily study routine and his study strategies that allowed him to be all done studying by the time his wife got home from work, so that they had their evenings free.
Master your study process by attending one of our free study training workshops: https://www.superfastcpa.com/study-secrets/
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- 00:00 Tyler D Interview Video
- 03:10 How Tyler Started His CPA Journey and Experience
- 05:59 Worn Out by the Time He Gets to the Questions
- 07:01 Why Tyler Went for the CPA Again After Getting More Experience
- 09:32 Becker Expired so Tyler Picked Up Ninja for the MCQ Bank
- 10:24 Finding SuperfastCPA Through the Podcast
- 11:24 The Key Ideas That Clicked With Tyler
- 14:00 Scheduling Test Days on Mondays and Relying on the Mega Cram Sessions
- 15:41 The Time it Took Tyler to Get Used to the Study Process
- 17:25 Passed Immediately After Adopting the Questions First Approach
- 18:11 Tyler’s Daily Study Routine
- 20:24 How Tyler Was Able to Find Extra Time to Study on His Phone
- 21:44 After Passing His First Exam, the Next Ones are Easier
- 23:06 Tyler’s Study Process for the Practice Sims
- 25:26 The Test Experience Between His First and Second Exam
- 26:14 How Tyler Utilized Taking Down Notes
- 27:23 Finished All Four CPA Exams on First Try in Five Months
- 27:54 Even Managed to Study From His Phone Even When on a Trip
- 29:19 Found Success in Doing a Two Day Final Review Near Test Day
- 31:01 Another Big Thing Tyler Did on His Final Cram Session
- 32:13 Tyler’s Study Process for the 48 hour Mega Cram Session
- 34:32 What Tyler Felt After Finally Passing the CPA Exams
- 37:56 Reading the SuperfastCPA Review Notes to Get an Overview of the Section
- 39:09 How Tyler Used the SuperfastCPA Notes for Hard Topics
- 40:54 The Constant Repetition of MCQs Just Make You Better at Answering
- 44:31 Top Tips for Those Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
- 47:53 Tyler’s Final Review Summarize Strategy
Nate: Was the motivation thing a lot easier once you had passed FAR and you’re like, okay, I know my process works, so I know that time I’m spending is gonna pay off.
Tyler: Oh yeah. The time commitment was so much less, like, it felt so much easier than before.
Tyler: even my wife was like, “Hey, this is way different than the last time you took it. Like you’re around, like you’re not cooped up in a room 24/7.” Because by the time she got home I was done studying. Cuz I’d do an hour early in the morning and I’d do an hour and I got off work earlier than her.
Tyler: By the time she’s got home, we can eat dinner together and I’m done.
Nate: Welcome to another episode of the CPA exam experience podcast from SuperfastCPA. I’m Nate and in today’s interview, you’re going to hear me talk with Tyler.
Nate: So Tyler had sent me a very simple email and his email said, “Hey, just wanted to reach out and say, thanks for the program. I absorbed it all from the podcast to the PRO videos to the forum. I was able to knock out the four exams in six months, studying two hours a day. Took trips with my friends, drank a few beers, golfed, and didn’t feel like my life was really that bad. Thanks for the valuable insight and helping me stay away from four hour video lectures.”
Nate: So that was kind of the end result of Tyler’s CPA journey, where he’s able to pass the exams, studying two hours a day, and still feeling like he had a fairly normal life, like his entire life wasn’t a huge miserable grind. So in this episode, we will get into all of that, exactly what he did to accomplish that, and just make the CPA exams, just not a huge deal.
Nate: So before we get into the episode, I just want to mention two things. First, our free CPA study trainings. That’s where we go through the core basics of our study approach, and the strategies, and why it’s so different than the normal way of studying. Where you just watch every video lecture, read every chapter and then do the practice problems in your review course. You’re still using your main review course, but you’re using the materials much differently, which is much more effective. So the link to one of those trainings will be down in the description of this episode.
Nate: The second thing is our free podcast giveaway. So each month we give away three pairs of Power Beat PRO headphones to three random listeners who have entered the giveaway. It’s just your name and email, and that link will be down in the description as well.
Nate: So with all that out of the way, let’s get into the interview with Tyler.
Nate: Is Ohio Eastern time?
Nate: Oh, I did not know that. Okay. are you a Bengals fan?
Tyler: Not really. I’m a Packers fan, so it’s kind of, but a lot of my friends are Bengals fans, so I’m feeling for ’em.
Nate: Yeah, I mean, good season and it’s just, yeah. Anyways, yeah, it’s gonna be one of those guys every year.
Nate: Mahomes or Burrow, it seems like.
Tyler: Makes for a good game.
Nate: Yeah. okay. So you have listened to a bunch of these, you kind of know how these go?
Nate: Okay. Yeah. We’ll just talk through your whole study process.
How Tyler Started His CPA Journey and Experience
Nate: So yeah, we’ll just start at the beginning. I mean, you sent me an email, but then you kind of made comments on in a few different spots. So, you did your master’s back in 2016, 2017. And jumped in with Becker right after that it sounds like.
Nate: So let’s start there. What was that like?
Tyler: Yeah, so in the Master’s program, we had covered some of the CPA, content then, but not a lot of it. And then we did quite a few, demos with Becker, so it kind of seemed like that was the, clear choice for a, study program. And then my friends in the program at that time were using it as well.
Tyler: So right when I got done, I jumped into that. and I started with FAR and it was rough. I think the big part for me that was hard was sitting through the entire video lecture and then having the energy to do the rest of the modules. you were talking what, five, six years ago now?
Tyler: But I just remember getting about, I’m gonna say halfway through it, and I was really struggling, kind of with the overwhelming amount of content. I remember back then reading, a few Reddit threads and things like that about maybe not, using all of the content that they have and really just jumping into the MCQs and kind of doing that.
Tyler: so I think somewhere around that time, cuz I, I think I spent about 12 weeks on FAR that first try. somewhere around halfway to maybe two thirds of the way through, I started just doing MCQs. So I didn’t even finish the, all the video content and then I went and took the exam and I thought it was a, I, there was no chance I even got a 50 on it, is what I thought.
Tyler: that’s how miserable it was. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even get the research question right. and then I got my score back and I think I got a 71. and then I got a new job that didn’t really, wasn’t really fit the mold of needing to be a CPA, so I just kind of canned it and said this was too much.
Tyler: And like the drain it took on my mental health was pretty rough, so I just kind of moved on. So that was kind of my experience with Becker. I was just kind of overwhelmed by all that content and then I felt like I was not effective because I’d spend, the two hours watching the lecture and I’d be on Instagram or something, I mean, because my mind just would drift right off.
Nate: Yeah. yeah, so, and that’s a really good point is, if someone’s trying to study whatever, three or four hours a day, and you start with the video lecture, and you go through that whole battle of, you’re gonna probably restart it several times by the time you finish it, a 30 minute video lecture might have taken an hour and a half or two hours.
Nate: And so then you’re already like, worn out before you’ve even done the important part of the study session, which would be, getting into the questions. So yeah, that’s, anyways.
Worn Out by the Time He Gets to the Questions
Nate: So I guess my question is, so you’re working then, right? And then, were you trying to study about four to five hours a day?
Nate: So like that was your whole life basically?
Nate: Pretty much I, my original schedule, if I remember right, was I think three hours a night. And then I would try to get like six hours plus on the weekends. And that usually never worked out. I mean, it sounds good on paper or when you’re building out a schedule, but it’s, what is it, quantity over quality at that point, Yeah.
Tyler: Yeah. I was, and the part that like drove me crazy, I think was the, when you would read or watch a video lecture and then they just told you to highlight the book. And I’m like, what am I doing?
Tyler: So that was kind of weird to me.
Nate: Yeah, they’re. Right. I would say 80% of people use Becker.
Nate: It’s still just kind of the standard, but their lecture format is interesting where it’s just kind of a voice as you highlight the book anyways, I don’t know. Anyways.
Why Tyler Went for the CPA Again After Getting More Experience
Nate: Okay, so, so you do that was like, like your initial taste of the CPA study process and then a few years go by, you just kind of forgot about it, and then what happened?
Tyler: So I actually started, well for the longest time I’d had been doing, tax returns. kind of as a, side hustle side project. and I actually went ahead and took the, EA exams, enrolled agent exam. And, this was. I think that was in July of last year and I didn’t have too part of a time with it.
Tyler: I know it’s really nothing compared to the CPA and it’s total scope, but the tax part of it is comparable to REG. so after I took that, I kind of was thinking, why don’t I just give the CPA thing a try again? I mean, I always wanted to be a CPA and do the CPA. That’s why I got my master’s degree.
Tyler: And then my wife and I are, we’re trying for a child. So I was thinking, maybe this would be an opportunity, time to give it another try before a gig comes. so I, I remember actually I was sitting in bed with my wife and I told her, I said, “Hey, I think I might try to do the CPA again.”
Tyler: And she was a little nervous cuz she knew the first time, it took a real toll on me. but I was thinking, I don’t know if there’s something about not to, didn’t say anything to all the young listeners, but being a little bit older and having some experience, I felt like the process was a little easier for me this go around, so I guess anybody that’s listening that is been out of school for a little while, or have been outta school for a little while, I wouldn’t be afraid because I think the way we process things changes as we get a little bit older, get more experience. Like that was some of the concepts in FAR that I really struggled with back then, even right outta school were easier now. If that makes sense.
Nate: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And I think you just absorb a lot, working for a while. I mean, do, were you working in public accounting? You’re doing taxes on the side, but.
Tyler: So I started in, I’m, I was an audit, but I was doing audit for, our state. so we would audit all of the local government agencies from all the way down to a little township all the way up to the city.
Tyler: which was great. I got a ton of great experience. So then I got a job at one of the local en, one of the local entities, like type we would audit. okay. So I would always like tax, I thought about going into the tax route, but ended up just having an audit job. So I just kind of kept, kind of stayed fresh on it ever since school really.
Nate: Gotcha. You became an expert in government accounting, it sounds like.
Tyler: Pretty much, yeah. Which made FAR a little easier.
Nate: Yeah, definitely.
Becker Expired so Tyler Picked Up Ninja for the MCQ Bank
Nate: okay, so had your Becker from a few years ago expired? Or what’d you, when you wanted to jump back in, what’d you do?
Tyler: So, yeah, I had expired and I paid a lot of money for that because it was paid for by my employer, but then I left too soon, so I paid it back.
Tyler: that was the whole thing. So when I was coming back to it, I knew I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to use Becker again. And I also didn’t wanna spend like three grand, on study prep. So I remember doing some research and I kept hearing a lot of things about just using like the Ninja MCQ Bank.
Tyler: so I thought, well, maybe if I do that, I’ll just try one of the sections and just do a bunch of MCQs and see if that would work. So that’s where I started and I grabbed that. But then I, I think I was like three days into it before I picked up, Superfast and it was kind of necessary cuz I was kind of struggling with a methodology with that.
Nate: Okay. Okay.
Finding SuperfastCPA Through the Podcast
Nate: did you see one of our ads? Do you remember? Or what, how’d you come across us?
Tyler: I’m a big podcast person, so I was just searching CPA on Spotify. And then he popped up and I started listening.
Nate: Okay. To the interviews or did you start from the beginning? Because I think I did like five or six like solo episodes at first.
Tyler: I’m trying to remember if I started, I think I might have just caught like one early one, like one of your latest ones. And then I actually started going back in time and playing through ’em. Cause I listened to ’em pretty much for motivation. And then after probably listening to the five or 10 of ’em, I’m like, I need to go on there and buy the, the, the PRO videos and the big thing I, when I was hearing you talk was I was like, I want that phone app. That’s really what I wanted.
Tyler: Cause I, I really wanted to maximize time, so I’m like, I need to get, and then when I got on I was like, I might as well get it all cuz I was kind of bought into the, the process. Like it just made for me. so that’s where I kind of went from there.
Nate: Okay, cool.
The Key Ideas That Clicked With Tyler
Nate: So, okay, so you get our, the whole thing, the PRO course and the study tools. And so you went in and watched the PRO course videos first, I’m guessing?
Nate: Do you remember any key ideas or anything that just kind of made sense to you based on what you’d been doing previously?
Tyler: Sometimes, I can’t remember if I heard it in the PRO videos or your podcast, so you can correct me which ones, but I’ll name off you. I think the main thing was, the, I’m pretty sure this is PRO videos, is that quality study time. That you know when you are studying, cuz this is gonna be two hours a day, it’s gonna be like no distractions.
Tyler: You’re bought in and it’s gonna be high quality, study time. that made a lot of sense to me cuz I’m like, yeah, I was probably studying that three to four hours. But like an hour of it was probably worthwhile before. So that was a big one. I can’t remember if this is just something you said off the cuff in a, in an interview or if it was on there, but I like the idea of the no off days and the full commitment to what you’re doing.
Tyler: I really like that, because what I’ve learned, like I said, I can’t tell remember which one way I learned this, but the, just kind of the consistency and the constantly the re-review and constantly putting it in your brain over and over. you’re just kind of, I feel like you’re trying to gain ground, but you’re also trying not to lose ground every single day.
Tyler: So that was a huge part for me was that no matter what, even if I, it was, I could only get an hour or 30 minutes, I was gonna do something no matter what, so I didn’t lose any ground.
Nate: Yeah, the, that’s the first one is that’s not what people usually say. I guess it’s been mentioned a few times, but yeah, the idea of, and the thing is a lot of these things sound so obvious, it’s almost like, I don’t know, like saying it was just seems so obvious, but it’s so easy to not do things optimally.
Nate: Like you said. I think a lot of people sit down, they’re spending three to five hours. But yeah, it’s maybe 30 to 60 minutes of like worthwhile time. And the bad thing is you’re still taking three to five hours away from things you’d rather be doing regardless. So yeah, two hours is like, okay, anyone can lock in for two hours, and as long as you just, okay, I’m gonna put my phone across the room, or put it on do not disturb, whatever it takes, you’d be surprised how much you can get done in two hours if you’re not, if you’re just productive the entire time.
Scheduling Test Days on Mondays and Relying on the Mega Cram Sessions
Tyler: I think another thing in the PRO videos was the, didn’t you have one towards the end about the cram?
Nate: Yeah, the, the, yeah, the mega cram session. Just the last 48 hours before a test.
Tyler: I’m a big person for the mega cram. For sure. That was.
Tyler: That was, I relied on the mega cram.
Nate: Oh, I really think it’s worth, it could be worth 10 to 15 points. yeah, the two days before an exam. So would you try to always do your exams on a Monday?
Tyler: Yes, I always did that. I would, a lot of times I would take that Monday off so I could take the exam and then I would take the Friday off before as well and I would pretty much do crazy 48 hour cram Friday and Saturday and then Sunday I would try to keep it light, but I was still doing stuff.
Tyler: It was more or less, how do I explain, especially in FAR, there’s like a million questions that are honestly easy if you just memorize ’em. So those, that Sunday and then right before the exam, I would be doing like the flashcards and stuff like that, or high level notes. Not doing anything crazy, but those things, I’m like, if I forget this, I’m gonna be really mad at myself.
Tyler: Cuz it’s a term, or a definition.
Nate: Right. Yeah. And there’s, yeah, that’s the thing. There’s a lot of that. It’s when I went in and my first FAR exam, that was I start seeing questions. First of all, they’re mostly easier than what was in my review course, but second of all, I had forgotten, just couldn’t remember this one little piece to just this very simple conceptual question.
Nate: So yeah, immediately that was the idea of like, re-review. I’m gonna constantly be rehitting everything because I would pass this if I hadn’t forgotten all this easy stuff.
The Time it Took Tyler to Get Used to the Study Process
Nate: okay, so going back, so after you watched the PRO videos,And you just start applying the daily process.
Nate: Was there a several week period before it kind of started clicking, or how did that go?
Tyler: Yeah. I struggled in the beginning because since I wasn’t using like Becker or Roger, I was just using Ninja and your content. it was hard for me to actually do a section, like try to learn a section at a time and do the questions.
Tyler: because it just wasn’t formated that way I think. I think Ninja’s formatted just the, it’s categorized by blueprint, so it’s categorized by the blueprint and not, some sort of order like you would see in their book. so really what I did was, I kind of just did re-review the whole time. So, I tried to read the Ninja book.
Tyler: I read it for FAR, but it was, by the time you’re done with it, it’s not that great. so what I did was I read all the FAR notes, in the first, day or two. And then I just started jumping in the questions and then, it takes you a long time to do questions, especially for FAR if you don’t have a clue how to do them.
Tyler: So, 10 questions could take me a long time, but I used the questions to learn, so I would just work through stuff. And then after a while, it took me, that was the hard part, the first couple weeks, I didn’t know if that was what I was doing, was nonsense or not, because you’re not scoring well and, constantly going back and looking things up. But after the first exam, I knew it just worked. because by the time you’re half, at least for me, halfway through studying, I know what I’m not good at. I know what I’m good at. I’m scoring, 70 to 80% here and there, and I, and when I got, especially when I got that first passing score, I’m like, this works.
Tyler: I just have to keep doing it.
Passed Immediately After Adopting the Questions First Approach
Nate: And so your first one after jumping back in this time you passed it the first time?
Tyler: Yes. And so that one I did. So I started with FAR and I messed up when I scheduled the exam, I thought I was giving myself either seven or eight weeks. I can’t remember, but I counted on my calendar wrong and I only had six weeks.
Tyler: but I didn’t really feel that bad about it, so I did it in six weeks. Definitely did a mega cram. and then I passed FAR with an 84, so I was really happy with that.
Nate: Nice. Yeah. That’s awesome. And so, yeah, so from there, you know what you’re doing’s working. was it also,you mentioned how much time you were spending previously and the mental toll and everything.
Tyler’s Daily Study Routine
Nate: Did you kind of follow our format as well where it was like mostly two hours in the morning, mini sessions throughout the day, and then you’re not trying to study all evening, so you just had a more normal daily routine.
Tyler: It was a little bit different than the routine for the PRO videos. I did the two hours a day.
Tyler: I started doing two hours in the morning, but I am, I know everyone says it’s not a morning person, but the two hours was a bit for me, so I kind of put this in the forum when I was talking to people that I actually split it and I did an hour in the morning and then an hour in the evening, and then anytime in between, I did whatever a mini session could be. Sometimes a mini session was just the app questions. Sometimes, I tried to find, find ways to get study time in. It didn’t feel like study time. So you know, a lot of times if you’re reading like the Reddit CPA, like people were talking about questions related to FAR.
Tyler: So I would see that, or if there was a content that I knew I struggled with, I tried to, like, before I watched a bunch of YouTube videos. I try to watch a YouTube video out of the, a thousand on that. I was just trying to expose myself a lot and kind of crank up the amount of time. I know you’ve talked about that a lot in terms of try to get as you get all these hours, but they don’t feel like you have a lot of hours in,so, yeah.
Nate: Yeah, definitely. And that’s what’s so nice about, studying from your phone is. It’s just, I mean, I did everything in the PRO course is exactly how I did it. Like I studied heavily from my phone, even though there weren’t optimal phone study tools. I was like pinching and zooming these like PDFs from Wiley.
Nate: But I would still do it. And yeah, cuz I just realized, I’ve like, I would read, reach the end of like ESPN at the time. Sometimes just at lunch, and then was like, man, I spend so much time looking at my phone and I feel like I don’t have time to study, so I’m just going to take all these apps off my phone, all the games or whatever I did.
Nate: And yeah, the idea of, I didn’t think of it as a mini session at the time, but I studied from my phone constantly and it just makes a huge difference.
How Tyler Was Able to Find Extra Time to Study on His Phone
Tyler: Yeah, we,I also, normally I’m the driver in my relationship, so I drive everywhere. I made my wife chauffer, for six or for five months, however long it took, because it was awesome because anytime we drove anywhere, I would just do mini question, do the question, the quizzes on your app, and I, it just adds up. It kind of racks up, I guess. Every time you don’t realize, how much that helps. And like I said, you’re not losing any ground, you’re keeping those little facts in your brain.
Nate: Right. And, you’ve probably heard this in other podcasts, but it like, try the deep level understanding of all these topics.
Nate: Even if you spend, I don’t know, five or six hours on one lesson and feel like you’ve learned everything in that lesson, just the way your short term memory works, you’re gonna lose like, I don’t know, half of that by three days from now. And so the kind of the deep understanding or the long-term retention has to kind of come in layers.
Nate: And so that’s why I think the re-review is so beneficial and just kind of constantly hitting everything. okay, so after you finished FAR, then, which one did you do next?
Tyler: I did, let’s see here. I’m looking at it now. Audit? Yep, I did audit. Okay.
Nate: And, did you just feel
After Passing His First Exam, the Next Ones are Easier
Nate: was the whole, was the motivation thing a lot easier once you had passed FAR and you’re like, okay, I know my process works, so I know that time I’m spending is gonna pay off.
Tyler: Oh yeah. And really, I think I didn’t touch on it earlier. The time commitment was so much less, like, it felt so much easier than before.
Tyler: even my wife was like, “Hey, this is way different than the last time you took it. Like you’re around, like you’re not cooped up in a room 24/7.” Because by the time she got home I was done studying. Cuz I’d do an hour early in the morning and I’d do an hour and I got off work earlier than her.
Tyler: By the time she’s got home, we can eat dinner together and I’m done. I might watch a YouTube video or, do something on the app here and there, but it was like nothing was any different. so the time commit was so much less and I, it wasn’t really killing me, especially when I seen an 84 on FAR, that, that really gave me, the confidence rolling into the next sections. Cause I knew, I was downhill from there.
Nate: yeah. That’s awesome. And,the whole process is easier to, like, it’s a lot more sustainable right, when you can have a complete mental break and your whole life isn’t just work study all night.
Nate: Feel like it’s not working. Wake up and do that again for months on end. yeah, just makes the whole thing easier to swallow.
Tyler’s Study Process for the Practice Sims
Nate: so what about,how did you implement sims? Because in the PRO course, it’s kind of like you do it on the weekends when you have more time. Is that how you did that?
Tyler: Yeah, I got, I didn’t really worry about ’em. Probably for the first half of my studying, I didn’t really start looking at ’em until I felt more com comfortable with, the material cuz you’re, you know, I wasn’t doing all the videos and lectures and I just don’t absorb, I just, now I know I don’t absorb information that way.
Tyler: I’m more of a, I have to do it to understand it kind of thing. So once I started feeling more comfortable, I jump into the sims, but I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on sims. Kind of like you’ve said, before, it’s mainly the structure of them. for FAR I think it’s different. I think you really need to understand how to do the bank rec, how to do,the consolidation statements and stuff like that.
Tyler: A few of the big ones that everyone talks about, I think you, you need to grasp on that cuz they always come up. It feels. But other than that, what I relied on was in my cram session. I would do, and this has been said a lot of times, I would always do the AICPA sample test because that’s primarily sims.
Tyler: There’s only a few MCQs. So you can do quite a few sims right there and see how you did. and if you bomb those, that, that’s kind of a telling sign. and those are, I think, a really good representation of what you’re gonna see. And I like doing it right before I took the exam because it’s, I don’t think it mattered if I took AEM five weeks ago, but right there before kind of getting, especially like the research question, like making sure you understand how to nail that cause that’s worth it’s weight and gold, like, figure that out and get those every time.
Nate: Yeah. Right. yeah, kind of like free square as long as you’re, did you practice those at all or just It’s mostly being familiar with how the, if you go into the authoritative literature where everything’s located so that you can find it.
Tyler: Yeah, I just, my only practice was the one on the, usually the one that was on the, practice exam.
Tyler: Because actually Ninja doesn’t really have sim or, research sims on their program. So, but I, when I did all the practice exams, I was able to find it. And when we haven’t even touched on it, when you’re really good at getting through ncq s you’ve got plenty of time to look up.
Tyler: you’re, you have plenty. You can take your time and not stress out and find the answer.
Nate: Yeah. Okay. I guess that’s one other question.
The Test Experience Between His First and Second Exam
Nate: So, your first FAR attempt and then the second one where you passed it, was the test experience completely different? I mean, I’m sure it was.
Tyler: The only real significant difference was that the first time I took it, I literally felt like I had no idea what was going on the whole time.
Tyler: I’m a fast test taker, so I never ran out of time, but, I just walked outta there, like, there’s no way. But when I took FAR the second time I walked out and, and thought that was a pretty fair exam, I felt like I understood most of what was going on. there’s a few, I had no idea, but I’m guessing those were, the, the test questions.
Tyler: So coming out was a complete different feeling and that was nice too, because when I came out the first time, thinking I had no absolute chance. It kind of killed all my motivation.
Nate: Yeah, that’s true. Okay.
How Tyler Utilized Taking Down Notes
Nate: And what about your, I think you mentioned flashcards. Did you kind of make flashcards, kind of in the, how we talk about it in the PRO course or handwritten notes or what was your process for that?
Tyler: Yeah, so I did flashcards on my phone. Like I, I’m big, I was big on the, keep it on my phone cuz I’m always on my phone. I used those heavily for FAR. I did not use them as much for BEC and REG. but FAR and audit, I did. FAR, I pretty much put all the, memorization type items on there. All the different, random tidbits and facts.
Tyler: It wasn’t any of the detailed transactions and calculations, but I still had like a hundred of them of just random little questions they could ask. And I would roll through those before bed, and then after a while you, it’s cool with the apps, they, you can set ’em up in a way where, it shows you the ones you get wrong more often and all that.
Tyler: So I did use ’em pretty regularly there.
Nate: Yeah. And that is what they’re really good for is there is just a lot of these one-off questions that you essentially just need to memorize and, I don’t really think there’s a better way of doing it than with flashcards.
Finished All Four CPA Exams on First Try in Five Months
Nate: all right. Let me look back at your, I think there was one other thing in your email I wanted to ask you about.
Nate: Yeah. Oh, you just mentioned, so you, it was basically five months, so the second time around it was basically five months, like end to end.
Tyler: Yeah. And I went four for four in five months. And like I said, the first time I took FAR it, I studied it for three months. So, yeah, it was quick and it, like I said, I did not feel, I mean, it sucked.
Tyler: Don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t that bad.
Nate: That’s awesome. yeah.
Even Managed to Study From His Phone Even When on a Trip
Nate: And you just, you said you took trips with your friends, golfed. So going on trips, would you just kind of, would you, would you try to study like the main study thing or just kind of do stuff on your phone for a few days if you’re just gone for a few days?
Tyler: Yeah, so we did, like a fishing trip up in Michigan for, gosh, three or four days. And I just used the app and did, you know, mini sessions. I would try to get, half an hour or an hour a day. I figured, that was during audit. I remember that and I’m like, well, I’m maintaining my knowledge.
Tyler: There’s enough in here that, I’m not gonna lose ground cuz it was later in, I think I had two more weeks to go. and I had no issue with that there. I think there was a couple times where, I didn’t make, I didn’t let me not being home be an excuse not to study. I, you could just use the app and like I said, no matter what, try to get at least an hour in going over some stuff.
Nate: yeah. No, I think you said it earlier, just doing something every day. whatever it you, like, your morning might fall apart. It’s always a possibility, especially people with kids, they wake up early or whatever, but you know, sometime in the day you can at least find a half hour, an hour to do something and just at least maintain where you’re at.
Nate: If not, move forward a little bit. And I just think that makes a big difference over, the course of five to six weeks. so I think we kind of went through everything.
Found Success in Doing a Two Day Final Review Near Test Day
Nate: So besides the mega cram session, the two days before, would you save like a week for a final review or it kind of sounds like you were almost working on things cumulatively the entire time.
Nate: So did you do a final review or was it just those last two days?
Tyler: Yeah, usually it was just the last two days I do a final review cuz I was doing final review the whole time. and I found a lot of success in that. I mean, I just grinded multiple choice questions and then if I was really hung up on stuff, I would go look for something in the book.
Tyler: But to be honest with you, most of the time I could figure out what I needed to figure out by using your notes. the way your notes were written, I just think they were succinct. Like they were short enough and easy enough to understand that. That usually bridged the gap for me. There’s a million different ways you could look at this, but I kept finding myself wanting to get like way off in the weeds.
Tyler: Especially on FAR, like way, like I gotta figure out this nuance random thing. Cuz with the MCQs, I know Becker’s like this and Ninja’s the same way as you go through it, they have this learning mechanism and it just starts throwing you the craziest questions. And I remember hearing you talk about, don’t do that.
Tyler: don’t get so far in the weeds because you’re probably never gonna even see that question. So I’d just move on cuz I’m like, I want to get the five other questions right that are easy that I’m probably gonna forget if I spend too much time worrying about how to do, it was leases, like how to do, some one-off lease problem. Like I said, most of it’s outta my brain now, but yeah, some of those lease problems are crazy and the five different ways to do it, and I would just be like, okay, I’m probably not gonna see that and if I do, they win, on that one.
Another Big Thing Tyler Did on His Final Cram Session
Tyler: but the big thing on the big thing I found incredibly helpful in the final cram was I took your, you’ve talked about this before too, is finding ways to put the content in your own words.
Tyler: I would take your notes and I would force myself to rewrite all of your notes. and, and I would also force myself to write them in a way, like, not how you wrote ’em, I was not copying what you said. I was changing it into the way I would understand, and at the same time, I was trying to shorten it as much as I could, cuz I was going to use that as my cram sheet for right before going into the exam and that Sunday before going in.
Tyler: So I took the, like all the notes line by line, went through it. Condensed it as much as I could, and I felt like my understanding of the content just went through the roof when I did that because I would go from like a trending score of like 65, 70% on my questions, and then I would do that and I’d come in and start getting eighties and nineties.
Tyler: Because it just like capped all of my knowledge, it, I don’t know, it kind of put together all the missing pieces, know, and it, all that happened. A lot of that just happened right in that final cram. And I really do think you’re right when it comes to a, you could have a 10 point swing easily, right in that timeframe.
Tyler’s Study Process for the 48 hour Mega Cram Session
Nate: So, a few people have said they do that, where they like rewrite our notes. how long would that process, but the way you described it, I think is really smart. But how long would that take you? Like for FAR, how long did that take?
Tyler: That would usually take, so like I said, I’d take Friday off.
Tyler: Normally it would take most of that Friday, like normal, eight to four, especially FAR. Some of them depends on how long they are and how tired you get as you’re going through,
Tyler: But I was really committed to that because I, it really, increased my results. I felt anyhow, especially after I did it with fFAR.
Tyler: I’m like, I’m gonna do this every single time. So, so that took up a big chunk of that 48 hour, but then the next 48 hours, I would do just as many MCQs as I possibly not next 48, but the next 24 hours, I’d do as many m MCQs as I possibly could. and then that last day, like the Sunday before the exam, I did the sample test and just like I’d read those notes that I wrote again, over and over again cuz I could take your, I could get that down to 10 pages,
Nate: Yeah. I like that idea. so you’re just saying by hand you’d have the computer, I mean, you’d have the notes on your computer. And you would do your summary thing by hand or would you type it in another document?
Tyler: I would. I would split my screen in one document on one side, one and the other. I would type it.
Tyler: I’m not much a hand writer. You couldn’t read it if I did it. Yeah.
Nate: Plus, right? Typing’s just so much faster. Yeah, I guess if you can, well, everyone can type now.
Nate: You just have to, you have to remember to challenge yourself to put it in your own words. And I really am a big believer in that because I remember sitting in the exam and just the way I explained stuff to myself coming back into my brain, Yep. Yeah. There is something about that. It’s,yeah, I guess I don’t even, there, it’s just, I guess it’s kind of the idea of if you can teach it to somebody else type thing, which is essentially the same idea. Putting it in your own words. well, I think, oh, so, so you just recently, I mean, you basically finished when you got your fourth passing score win couple weeks ago, or a month ago.
Tyler: It was right before Christmas.
What Tyler Felt After Finally Passing the CPA Exams
Nate: So what’d you, did you guys do anything to celebrate, or what was it, after that first experience and then in a almost the same amount of time you were? Starting in all the way done. I mean, what was that like? Was it almost surreal that you were just done finally?
Tyler: Yeah, it was a crazy feeling because, I took, what was interesting was I got an 84 on FAR and then I took audit and I, when I walked outta audit, that was my] second exam. I thought I absolutely crushed that exam. Like I thought I aced it. And I got 79 and I’m like, what is going on? Am I doing something wrong?
Tyler: Because I felt like I aced it. But then what was funny is I followed up with BEC, and this is where it gets strange. BEC I thought was the hardest exam for me. I don’t know why. Not even the, I mean, studying sucked, and all the different, calculations. But when I took it, I’m like, oh my gosh, this is, I don’t know what people were talking about.
Tyler: This is hard. And then I got 93 on It made no sense. So I took REG last because I, that really technically is one of my stronger areas. Cause I just took the EA exam and I didn’t feel. That great coming outta that exam either. So I was sitting with my wife and, my mother-in-law, and we were actually at a restaurant.
Tyler: And, yeah, I knew the scores might come out early, but you never know, when they come out. So I was, we were already there when it came through and I got a 92 on it, and it shocked me. Like I was just floored. yeah, and it’s like, I don’t know, it’s just a, it’s a crazy feeling just to be like, okay, I’m done and I never have to do that again.
Tyler: And just so you can’t, you take the exams and you just truly have no idea what the score’s gonna be. Because like I said, you think you passed it, like you crushed it and then you get a lower score. You think you completely bombed it or you had no idea and you get a crazy high score. It doesn’t make any sense sometimes.
Nate: Right. Yeah, those are, those are pretty high scores for how fast you did it. that’s pretty awesome. And you also, you were, only using Ninja. So what? 70, 70 bucks a month? Times like five. So you spent like $350 and I guess our program. But yeah. That’s pretty good. That’s real good.
Nate: You’re probably gonna have a lot of people attempt to do it your way after this comes out. Cause it’s just, yeah.
Tyler: I would just say they just need to make sure they learn in that method, right? everybody learns differently and I found out that just doing problems consistently and as many as I could do really work for me just because I kind of need to be mechanically doing the stuff to learn it.
Tyler: And I’m just, I’m gonna zone right out. If I gotta read everything and watch videos I need it broken down into micros size pieces and go through it. So if that’s you,I would recommend doing a ton of MCQs and then if you are really hung up on stuff, then utilizing lectures or the book.
Tyler: But you know, even then go to the SuperfastCPA notes because usually you can find it there faster and it’s presented in a way that actually is relevant for the exam. Cuz those books just get so far into the weeds. And I said it earlier, you get to the exam and it’s not like, It’s not like that.
Tyler: The cra, I feel like the crazy hard questions you get on the exam are pretest questions a lot of times anyhow. Cuz they’re just so way outta left field and you’re like, I would’ve seen that, I feel like in the materials, but.
Nate: Yeah, that’s really cool.
Reading the SuperfastCPA Review Notes to Get an Overview of the Section
Nate: did you say you read our notes from start to finish at the very beginning of a section as well, just to get an overview of everything?
Tyler: Yes, I always did that because I felt like I couldn’t go into the questions completely blind. so I would, those were nice because I could get a real nice high level look and then when I get to the questions I would at least have an understanding of where they were coming from. and then it kind of helped me kind of work through some of the problems or at least get to start working through ’em.
Tyler: Cuz especially on, FAR, I think if I always come back to FAR. Some of those you’re not gonna know how to do if you haven’t spent a lot of time trying to learn how to do ’em if you’re just jumping right in the questions. But yeah, I’m a big believer in the notes that they were, that’s probably the most used thing.
Tyler: I mean, the audio’s great too, but,the act, just actually physically reading and those, and rewriting those notes was huge for me.
Nate: Yeah, that’s, I really like that idea or how you described it. kind of making a summary and every little point you write out is,You’re just kind of translating into your own words or your own form of how you understand it, I guess.
Nate: oh shoot. I had one other comment on something about that. Oh, practically speaking.
How Tyler Used the SuperfastCPA Notes for Hard Topics
Nate: So would you keep our notes up on like in the PDF on your screen while you did MCQs in case you wanted to find anything or? Would you just use the app or how’d you do that?
Tyler: Yeah, typically I would keep it up on the screen.
Tyler: and then really I only needed it in the beginning, for the most part, for the first few weeks. cuz after that, the, solutions on the questions do a pretty good job of of kind of keeping you queued in, but a lot of times I’d be like, okay, I don’t understand. Like sometimes there would just be a crappy explanation.
Tyler: I’m like, I gotta go back to the notes and understand this. And that’s where some of the deep learning, I think worked for me, because then I gotta, okay, I have a, an issue where I don’t understand why I got this wrong. Now I gotta jump back and kind of figure out why I did it wrong. And I think in those scenarios, it kind of helps build, like you said, almost layers.
Tyler: You’re just building layers over and over again on certain topics. And I think the other thing you have to remember too is that it’s, I think it’s physically impossible to be an expert on all of it. Like, you’re gonna do stuff wrong and continue to do stuff wrong. you’re just kind of doing your best at that point, right?
Nate: Yeah. Yeah. And then another thing you were saying about, like your process was having to use the questions and sims, to learn. And my thing is, that my argument is, there’s your learning styles and that can be helpful or whatever, but regardless of what your learning style is, If you’re gonna pass these exams, you have to go in there and answer the MCQs and sims.
Nate: So at some point in your study process, you need to do a lot of that. I mean it’s another one of those things that just sounds so obvious, but a lot of people don’t spend a lot of time doing that.
The Constant Repetition of MCQs Just Make You Better at Answering
Tyler: I would say, I’d venture to say it’s almost like. quote unquote hack, right? Like, after a while of doing those problems, you just start to get an understanding of how they’re asking them and how to get, it’s weird to say this, but how to get the right answer.
Tyler: Yeah. because I by no means I’m an expert in financial accounting and reporting, most of that stuff is absolutely outta my brain now, but I felt like I did so many questions that I could just fly through ’em. Like I, I left every exam with several hours left. So you just.
Nate: Oh man.
Tyler: After doing so many, cuz I remember when I started doing FAR questions, I would try to get, I remember you talking about try to do one question a minute and that was really hard in the beginning, but then towards the end I was like, I drank like, three monsters that day cuz I’m just crammed like crazy and I’m doing questions so fast because you just get better at it and you start to pick up like, where in the problem they’re asking the question and where all the content is and all that.
Tyler: It’s like the repetition really matters. I know a lot of people talk about don’t memorize the questions, but I didn’t really run into where I felt like I was memorizing any of them. There are so many questions in the banks usually. yeah, you do have to remember to make sure you’re actually looking at the solutions and understanding why you’re getting stuff right.
Tyler: Don’t get me wrong there, but there’s method to the madness, I think, in terms of the volume.
Nate: Oh, definitely. And I like how you just explained that. cuz a lot of times if I’m, in the forum or in an email if I’m, someone’s asked me a question about the, our process in general, and they’re just starting the study process.
Nate: And I’ll say like, it’s, this might sound weird, but you’re trying to get good at answering MCQs. And it’s basically what you just described. There’s all these nuances to it that you can’t really put into words, but you can get, you get good at it almost despite the material itself. Like you can get good at taking these tests.
Nate: yeah, that’s basically what you just described.
Tyler: I talked to several people who kind of were going through the process at the same time, and. I guess I always cringe at the idea there. I think there are a group of people that really, truly feel like they have to get in here and deeply understand the material.
Tyler: And they’re like, well, I’ll just give myself plenty of time. Like I’ll do FAR over, three months. And I think that if you, I mean, you might be able to do that and you might really have a great understanding, but I think there’s a ton of value in understanding that you, like you said, you gotta get good at this test and that you have to, there’s a lot of short term memory that’s gonna be relied on.
Tyler: Like, there’s so much content that I don’t think, I don’t think the professors in the lecturers at Becker could go take FAR and pass it today, even though they’re, they’re doing, all that study material, they could understand it really well, but at a certain point, a ton of it is short-term memory.
Tyler: Like get in there and study, and do it quickly so that you can take advantage of that. Yeah.
Nate: Yeah. It’s, people like to use the marathon, is it a sprint or a marathon? And to me it’s like the 400 meters. It’s a sprint that’s pretty far, and it’s, yeah, it sucks. Like you gotta hit it hard every day.
Nate: Yeah. But short enough that you don’t burn out anyways. It’s just this balance. Okay. Well, all right. I don’t want to take much more of your time. you gave a lot of really good, lot of really good tips. I’m glad I heard that, summarizing our notes thing. I think a lot of people will use that.
Top Tips for Those Still Struggling with the CPA Exams
Nate: so even if it’s something we already talked about, what would be your three biggest tips for someone, that’s like maybe struggling with their study process to get it figured out?
Tyler: I think that you have to kind of be honest with yourself about the commitment to it and the doing something every day. and primarily when I say doing something, I mean questions. cause I think, what I ran into when my first failed attempt was that doing something, I’m like, oh, I’ll listen to the lecture.
Tyler: Well, that was kind of a halfhearted attempt and I was not getting anything out of it. But when I converted to, I’m doing like, my goal most of the time through this was to try to hit a hundred questions a day. that was next to impossible in the beginning, but once I got in the groove, I’m like, I’m gonna get that a hundred questions done because that’s what I need.
Tyler: And then if I feel like I have extra time, I’ll pick up some stuff. So, you get in there and do those questions. it’s gonna feel impossible, but by the time you get to where you’re about to take the exam, you’re gonna feel a lot better. So that’s one. I’m gonna say it again though. And number two is the mega cram.
Tyler: Whatever really works for you. rewriting the notes worked really well for me. but also doing another, I did four, 500 MCQs in a day helps as well. it’s just cramming all that information into your brain. That was huge for me. and then, three I think is the, what we just talked about in terms of don’t space these exams out too far, thinking that’s gonna help you.
Tyler: because I think at a certain point you’re gonna know as much as you’re gonna know, and then you’re just battling losing information out of your brain. don’t be afraid to take an exam if you feel like you’re not ready. Give it that cram if you, especially if you have it scheduled, and go for it.
Tyler: Cuz I think you could surprise yourself.
Nate: Yeah, I, and I liked how you said the a hundred questions a day that’s come up a few times on these interviews. Not, well, a few people have said a hundred questions a day specifically, but I think more so the idea is,that’s like this concrete, it’s like if you hit that, you have a concrete thing that you’ve accomplished.
Nate: Whereas yeah, you could half watch a lecture for six hours, And you haven’t really done anything, but in knowing that you’ve worked through a hundred questions, or even if it’s 50 in the beginning, you just have this thing that, you’ve done something that like matters or translates on test day. So, yeah.
Tyler: The other thing I had, and I was gonna forget to say it, there were several times during this when I was in the middle of a study session and like I could tell I was just not with it that day. Like, I was not making any headway. I was making stupid mistakes and things like that. so don’t be afraid to give yourself a break, and come back to it if, after, like I said, when I was trying to get, say I was trying to get two hours in, in a row and I’m like an hour and 15 in and like my brain’s shutting off, I would just call it, cause I’m like, this is not productive.
Tyler: And if I can find a way to get back to this 45 minutes and another method, I will, but I’m not gonna sit here and just be not really actively engaged. Yeah, I think that’s, I noticed that I did that quite a few times.
Nate: Yeah. And that is smart too. yeah, it’s like, a fine line between that and making an excuse for yourself, but it’s also, if you’re in control and you’re putting in the time you’re disciplined, you also have the freedom to like do that if it’s just not working on a certain day.
Nate: I think that’s a good idea.
Tyler’s Final Review Summarize Strategy
Nate: Sorry, last question. Where did you get that idea, because I don’t say that in the PRO videos or anything, to kind of summarize the entire notes.
Tyler: So I’m kind of lazy.
Tyler: So when we were, when I was studying and every, and I was listening to all your podcasts about how everyone’s like, well, yeah, I’m taking notes and I’m putting ’em in my own words cuz you kept telling people to do that. And I’m like, well I haven’t been taking notes for this cuz I’m bad about if I take notes, they get thrown in a pile somewhere and I never come back to ’em.
Tyler: Not organized at all in that way. So I kind of was like, well, how can I do that? And I did it a little bit with flashcards, but I’m like, how can I really do that with the rest of these? And that’s kind of what hit me when I was doing FAR is that. Looking at these notes, I’m reading ’em and I’m like, okay, I’m not absorbing this cuz I’m, I need to physically be doing something.
Nate: So I was like, I’m just gonna write all these in my own words, kinda like what everyone’s been saying forever, as you go through the process. And then I came outta the other end of that. it, it was a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but I thought way more confident on a bunch of areas that I knew I wasn’t as good at, Yeah.
Tyler: I really wanted off a bunch of areas for me.
Nate: Yeah. That’s really cool. I’m, I mean, and the next thing I was gonna say is, I mean, I’m glad you found us. I’m glad you, I’m glad it helped you so much. Or, the notes, the strategies, whatever. But you got really good results. passing start to finish in five months and you weren’t studying all day every day.
Nate: that’s awesome. Congrats, man.
Tyler: Yeah, I appreciate it and I appreciate the program. and I kind am hopeful that, people see this, especially the people who have been outta school. Cuz I’ve been what’s that, six years since I touched it and everything changed. First time I took the FAR it’s way different.
Tyler: I think I first was still in it. yeah, so you can do it and if you just stick to this method and you stick to hitting the questions, it’s just consistency and you’ll get there.
Nate: So that was the interview with Tyler. I’m sure you found that very interesting and informative and hopefully motivating. To know that it is possible, when you have your study process locked down and every hour that you spend studying is highly effective and efficient, you really can get more done in two hours a day then most people can in four to five hours a day studying the normal way.
Nate: So again, to learn how to do that, the best place to start is with one of our free study trainings. That link will be down in the description of this episode.
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Nate: these interviews are the most helpful free resource available anywhere for someone trying to figure out their own CPA study process. So thanks for watching or listening and we’ll see you on the next episode.